Nancy Simmons, who works in superintendent support services for Mercer County Schools, has adopted a slogan that originated elsewhere: “My job is to make your job easier.”
By extension, the job of the Kentucky Organization of Superintendents’ Administrative Assistants is to make Simmons’ job easier. The organization, now approaching its 10th year, was formed under KSBA’s auspices initially as a way to improve communication with superintendents, using the key role of their administrative assistants. However, it quickly evolved into professional development that mirrors the system set up for school board member training.
Simmons is one of three KOSAA members who have never missed any of the group’s meetings. Whenever she returns from a KOSAA meeting, said Mercer County Schools Superintendent Dennis Davis, “We talk about what she’s learned and if we need to do something different or if we have to adjust some things. It’s been very valuable.”
Simmons said she enjoys the organization’s camaraderie, but notes, “You’re in a frame of mind for learning when you get there.”
While Simmons is a longtime member, Betty Joe Neeley, Owsley County Schools’ secretary to the superintendent, attended her first meeting this year. “It’s really a good thing because I’ve been learning so much,” she said of her first KOSAA session. “With the other superintendents’ administrative assistants at the meetings, they can give you some insight and ideas on some things.”
Mercer County Superintendent Dennis Davis said Nancy Simmons, who works in superintendent support services, helps the board negotiate the intricacies of state regulations.
KOSAA’s first meeting in January 2006 drew 52 people; membership currently is up to 168. Two years ago, the organization was opened up to other central office administrative assistants and education cooperative administrative assistants, said Kim Barker-Burton, KSBA senior policy consultant and eMeeting manager, who works with the group.
KOSAA gathers twice a year in conjunction with KSBA events: Summer Leadership Institute and Annual Conference. Smaller groups of members also meet during the association’s Fall Regional Meetings.
Training sessions initially focused on Open Meetings and Open Records laws, and KSBA services. The scope of the training has widened, tailored to what the members say they need, Barker-Burton said.
“They want more information on technology, they want more information on working with your board members. They also want interactive, hands-on learning activities,” in addition to the basics, she said.
Training also has included sessions on time management, team building, superintendent evaluations, policy updates, records retention, confidentiality, social media, and eMeeting, KSBA’s paperless board meeting service. Besides the KSBA policy staff, training also has been provided by association staff from other units, including communications and legal services. The group also has a mentoring program.
Courses are structured in a Professional Assistants Academy to advance members along different levels of training, similar to KSBA’s Academy of Studies for school board members.